Chronic pain affects nearly a third of the population of the United States and can lead to other physical and mental health conditions with devastating consequences. It is especially worrisome when the pain is specific to joints and bones – knees, hips, shoulders, elbows, wrists, the lower back are all very common locations for the pain to occur with or without having sustained an injury. Sometimes, it is just the normal wear and tear of living an active lifestyle that can result in pain. Thankfully, treatment options are available.
WHAT IS JOINT PAIN?
You may experience this kind of pain, which the Mayo Clinic defines as: “Joint pain can be discomfort, pain or inflammation arising from any part of a joint — including cartilage, bone, ligaments, tendons or muscles. Most commonly, however, joint pain refers to arthritis or arthralgia, which is inflammation or pain from within the joint itself.
“Joint pain can be mild, causing soreness only after certain activities, or it can be severe, making even limited movement, particularly bearing weight, extremely painful.”
Joint discomfort, if it becomes severe, can sometimes be treated with steroid joint injections, over-the-counter (OTC) pain medication, or stronger medications like ketamine.
WHAT IS CHRONIC PAIN?
Acute pain is your nervous system responding to temporary, localized pain – you smashed your fingertip in a kitchen drawer, you tripped and scraped your knee – but it always subsides when an injury or illness heals.
Chronic pain is distinct. It lingers, assaulting your nervous system and triggering warning signals for weeks, months, even years. You may have suffered an initial accident, serious infection, over-exercised, or there could be a reason for your ongoing pain, like arthritis or lupus, but some people experience chronic pain even without signs of the previous injury. Chronic joint pain is very different, specific, and worrisome.
WHEN DOES JOINT PAIN BECOME CHRONIC?
Chronic joint pain is normally deemed to be pain that lasts for more than six months. It can vary in intensity from mild to excruciating and continually affects your wellbeing, or pain that happens only intermittently. No matter the intensity or how often it happens, there is little doubt that chronic joint pain is a condition that must be treated to improve the quality of your life.
Joint pain becomes chronic and problematic when it robs you of the ability to do things in life you did or enjoyed without a second thought and significant effort on your part. These are called the activities of daily living. Seemingly simple activities such as walking up or down the stairs, getting out of bed, getting dressed, or simply taking a shower become major ordeals to accomplish because of the pain that occurs.
THE CAUSES OF CHRONIC JOINT PAIN
Each of us reacts to pain differently and have higher tolerances for the levels we can endure. Even if joint pain becomes chronic, it is not always debilitating. Here are some common causes of chronic joint pain:
- Arthritis is widely known for causing joint pain which may become chronic. It happens because of a breakdown of cartilage in joints and cannot be cured. Thankfully, the pain from the symptoms of arthritis may be minimized with the help of new treatment options.
- Fibromyalgia leads to widespread pain throughout your body, especially in the joints and muscles. Research has yet to identify a single cause, and treatment options are incomplete.
- Osteoporosis affects people as they age, especially women. It is a condition that severely weakens the bones, though it results in joint pain more often than bone pain.
- Many of us, especially younger people, are shocked to discover that chronic joint pain may be caused by physical stress and intense exercise routines. In this case, your doctor will recommend stretching before exercising followed by rest afterward. You could also try simply reducing the intensity or frequency of your workout sessions to reduce the pain.
- Equally disturbing to many people is the revelation of weight putting undue strain on our joints and muscles. Truthfully, obesity is a common cause of chronic joint pain and the solution is simple – lose weight by eating healthy and staying active to avoid pain.
- Lupus is an autoimmune disease that initially appears as chronic joint pain. It is a serious condition and one that requires proper care, though the diagnosis is tricky because it is similar to other ailments.
If you suffer from chronic joint pain, you may get temporary relief from anti-inflammatory OTC medication, topical creams, physical therapy, or hot or cold patches. For severe and debilitating symptoms, seek treatment, or help.
Chronic joint pain affects millions of people and cannot be cured. But its worst symptoms are manageable. If you or a loved one are suffering from the symptoms of chronic joint pain we can help. Contact us today to learn more about the innovative new treatments at Advanced Wellness and Pain. Our board-certified physicians can help you Regenerate Your Health.